The Best Order for Your Skin Care Routine and How Long You Should Spend on Each Step
In the US alone, there are almost 50,000 monthly searches for skin care routine and every three minutes one of us is searching for advice on the correct skin care order, but have you ever stopped to wonder how long we should be spending on each step of our routine? Dermstore has asked Board-certified dermatologist and owner of Facet Dermatology, Dr. Geeta Yadav to share her secrets, providing you with the perfect and easy-to-follow guide to getting great skin.
This step-by-step skin care guide for your morning and nighttime routines highlight which product you should use first, how long you need to apply them for and how many minutes you need to leave in between each step.
Your Morning Skin Care Routine
The order of product application is incredibly important as incorrect layering could render the products ineffective – or worse, irritate your skin. If that isn’t enough to convince you to take your routine more seriously, some skin care experts also insist it’s essential to leave enough time between steps for the product to absorb into your skin – “If your formulas don’t have time to penetrate the skin, they won’t work as well, especially when it comes to the application of subsequent steps — the active ingredients won’t be able to reach the skin, making a thorough routine a wasted effort”, says Dr. Yadav.
1. Cleanser – Dr Yadav recommends spending at least 30 seconds to a minute massaging the cleanser making sure the skin is thoroughly cleansed. You can rinse your face immediately unless your cleanser contains active ingredients such as AHAs.
Waiting time: Wait for your skin to feel completely dry. However, if you are using a hydrating toner containing hyaluronic acid apply it immediately after cleansing to a dam face.
Expert tip: Spend some time massaging the cleanser into your oiliest areas like your T-zone, this will help break down pore congestion.
2. Toner – Now you have cleansed your face, it’s time to apply your toner. You should only spend as much time as it takes to fully wipe down your face with a saturated cotton pad. Usually, it takes around 30 seconds.
Waiting time: If your formula contains alcohol or other astringent ingredients it will dry practically instantly and you are ready to move to the next step.
3. Serum – Time to help your skin get a smooth appearance with a serum. This step should take you around 30 seconds or the time it takes to smooth the product over your whole face.
Waiting time: now it’s the time to focus on your eyes so you can proceed immediately.
4. Eye Cream – The skin around our eyes is very sensitive and delicate so we need to apply specific products for this area to avoid any damage or irritation. It should take you around 30 seconds to apply a specific eye product.
Waiting time: The next step is to treat spots and because you shouldn’t apply this type of cream around the eye area you can continue with the next step immediately.
5. Spot Treatment – You are ready to treat your spots one by one with a product that will help you to reduce the inflammation and calm the area while avoiding infection. The time this step will take will depend on the quantity and size of the blemish but approximately around 15 seconds.
Waiting time: it’s important to give enough time for the product to penetrate the skin and dry so we need to allow at least one minute before moving to the next step.
6. Moisturizer – We can’t forget to apply the moisturizer to the face and neck making sure it’s well applied. This normally takes from one to two minutes.
Waiting time: The cream must absorb completely before moving to the next step, make sure to at least wait for one to two minutes or at least until your skin doesn’t feel tacky to the touch.
7. Sun Cream – Surprisingly, this is the step that should take you the longest in your skin care routine so make sure it is done with the utmost care to obtain the effect you are after. If you are applying it to the whole body, spend at least two minutes thoroughly applying, if it’s just your face and neck a minute or two should be enough.
Expert tip: Regardless of when you start your morning routine, I’d recommend you leave at least five to 10 minutes for all of your products to fully absorb before moving onto your makeup routine, especially your sunscreen. Applying makeup can disrupt sunscreen — in particular, it can cause mineral formulas to move around — which will reduce your coverage and their efficacy.
Dr. Yadav insists: “The most important thing is leaving time for all of your products to absorb ahead of your final AM step — sunscreen application. If your prior products don’t fully absorb, chemical sunscreens will not be able to reach the skin to create the chemical reaction that protects you from UVA/UVB rays. It’s also important when applying mineral sunscreen — all the layers may smear around, sheering out the coverage of your SPF, making it less effective.”
Your Nighttime Skin Care Routine
Your nighttime routine should take a little longer if you’re adding in peels, serums, essences and / or face masks, and even more so if using a facial roller or gua sha.
Throughout the day, our skin is absorbing all the air pollution around us and it’s very important not to skip this as it will help your skin to replenish all the vitamins throughout your night’s sleep.
Steps one and two remain the same as in the morning routine, however, there are a few changes in the next steps:
Eye Cream – As previously mentioned you need to treat the skin around the eye with products particularly formulated for this area in order to avoid irritation.
Waiting time: you can move on to the next step immediately.
Treatments – Depending on the type of treatment you are going to apply; either serums, acne, retinol or peel, you will need to follow their instructions as indicated to avoid any undue stress or damage to the skin.
Waiting time: Very important to make sure that the different treatments you are using don’t interact with each other and are applied in the correct order.
Dr. Geeta Yadav recommends not overdoing this treatment category to avoid irritating the skin.
Night Cream – This is the last step of your night routine. It should usually take around one to two minutes to apply the cream over your face and neck. However, if you enjoy using a facial roller or gua sha this is the moment to take a little longer.
While your routine may be over, Dr. Yadav recommends waiting exactly 10 minutes before going to bed so all the products you have applied don’t end up on your pillow!
Need a quick reference on how to go about your skin care routine? Check out our cheat sheet below.